Indonesia’s Seafarer Union, Kesatuan Pelaut Indonesia (KPI) has agreed to enter into a federation with transport unions from Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand after a formative meeting in Kupang yesterday (Tuesday).
The Maritime International Federation (MIF) aims to bring together unions with similar intentions in order to secure jobs for local maritime workers to ensure wealth created in the region is benefiting local communities. The meeting also endorsed an official launch date of the MIF at the beginning of the next financial year.
In addition to KPI, the MIF consists of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and Papua New Guinea Maritime and Transport Workers Union (PNGTWU), and has the potential to include the East Timorese union, SMETL and other unions in the Asia Pacific region.
International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said private companies supported by certain neo-liberal governments were consistently trying to undermine organised labour and to defend against these attacks, and unions had to work together.
“One of the major growth areas for jobs is the Asia Pacific, and the international trade union movement hasn’t been able to keep up with this growth,” said Mr Crumlin.
“We need a new model and a federation of like-minded unions is one of the ways we can change the old, tired model to build capacity and drive membership.”
KPI President Hanafi Rustandi said the MIF was an exciting concept and would give the union more bargaining leverage and ability to organise members.
Mr Rustandi talked about how a MIF would help the union extend into the burgeoning hydrocarbon industry, at places like Kupang.
MUNZ National Secretary Joe Fleetwood said unions need to secure decent paying jobs to create a future and a career path for all.
“A federation with our neighbours works in the interest of New Zealand’s working class, as well as the working class in the other countries,” said Mr Fleetwood.
“Some of the companies we come across have the wealth to influence Governments, some companies, like Chevron, are financially bigger than New Zealand.
He concluded: “As a result we need to grow our strength using our sheer numbers.”